What Is Modern Day Slavery?

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Human trafficking, ModernDaySlavery, Sex Trafficking, Uncategorized

Following a request for the term ‘modern day slavery’ to be explained, here is some information that we hope you find useful.

December 10, 1948 – United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

“Slavery was, in a very real sense, the first international human rights issue to come to the fore. It led to the adoption of the first human rights laws and to the creation of the first human rights non-governmental organization. And yet despite the efforts of the international community to combat this abhorrent practice, it is still widely prevalent in all its insidious forms, old and new.” Kofi Annan

”Slavery was abolished 150 years ago, right? While it is true that slavery is illegal almost everywhere on earth, the fact is there are more slaves today than there ever were.” Robert Alan

2.5 million people are in forced labour, including sexual exploitation, at any given time as a result of trafficking, and conservative estimates place the number of slaves in the world today at 27 million. 600K-800K people are trafficked yearly. 56% are in Asia and the Pacific. Most victims are between 18 and 24. 95% experience physical or sexual violence.

What is a slave? A contemporary slave is a person held against their will, controlled by violence and paid nothing for their work — the same definition as slaves 150 years ago. Slaves are bought to perform physical labour, to be sexually exploited, to be used as mules…to be robbed of their humanity and freedom.

Some slaves are bought…some find themselves in debt bondage, at times involving generations of one family…some are promised a future if they trust the traffickers…and some are stolen.

Many slaves are trafficked from one location to another, and so the term ‘human trafficking’ is the one that you will most often hear in reference to people in slavery today.

In 1850, the average price for a slave was the equivalent to $40,000. Today, if any price is paid, it is $100. The trafficking industry reaps 800% in profit. Our wallets are ‘the temple of the 21st century’ (John Ortberg). There is no incentive to maintain even a low level of well-being for the slaves; they are ‘disposable‘. They are controlled, often through fear, violence and drug use, until they are no longer useful; and then are thrown away. That said, human beings are ‘reusable': you can only use a batch of cocaine once, but a human can be used over and over again.

Thus, the slavetrade is lucrative and this does create a pull for those involved. It is worth remembering also that without demand for slaves of all kinds, slavery would not exist. Without people willing to sexually exploit others, people willing to use slaves in their factories or buy products made by slaves, without people willing to exploit others in their homes, etc…, slavery would not exist.

In some countries, though slavery is illegal, it is generally accepted. Other countries lack the resources to stop the trade. In every country, it is difficult to determine if someone is working against their will. We often think of such issues only reaching impoverished or just ‘far-away’ countries…but human trafficking IS happening in your city. It is happening all over the world.

Even after the slaves have been freed, they suffer immense psychological and physical trauma from something that often is the only way of life they have ever known – “It’s as if all identity has been stolen from them, except their identity as slaves.” Kevin Bales. Therefore the biological, psychological and social aspects of a life of slavery must be addressed in aftercare.

Why not take a few minutes to read this interactive online leaflet…it contains very accessible information and a few stories that are, frankly, heart-wrenching. Be sure to watch Long Pross’ story: http://love146.org/slavery. Another great source of information on modern day slavery is http://www.ijm.org/.

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